The Pentagon signaled that Monday’s (June 28) rocket attack on U.S. forces in Syria was launched by Iranian-backed militia forces.
U.S. Defense Department Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday (June 29), “We are all operating under the assumption that they (the rockets) were fired by an Iranian-backed militia or militias. We don’t have a specific source for the attack.”
On Monday, some 34 rockets were fired at the military base known as Green Village in Deir Ezzor, Syria.
U.S. Army Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the international intervention against the Islamic State, tweeted Tuesday, “On June 28, U.S. forces in Syria came under multiple rocket attacks, approximately 34 122mm rockets indirect fire attacks. No U.S. troops were killed or injured.”
Marotto told Voice of America that U.S. forces on the ground fired back, firing 155mm artillery shells. Marotto also tweeted that the U.S. also fired a Hellfire missile from a drone, wounding one of the attackers.
Kirby said the rockets caused structural damage to at least two buildings, but did not cause any casualties.
He added, “We’re still assessing the full extent of the damage.”
The rockets and shells came hours after the U.S. military said it attacked three targets near the Syrian-Iraqi border that Iranian-backed militia groups used to launch drone strikes against U.S. personnel and facilities.
President Joe Biden said Monday in the Oval Office of the White House, “I ordered airstrikes last night against sites used by Iranian-backed militia groups responsible for recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq.”
On Sunday night, the U.S. struck weapons depots and operational facilities utilized by militia groups such as the Hezbollah Brigades (Kata’ib Hezbollah; KH) and the Sayyid Martyrs Brigades (Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada; KSS), according to a statement from Pentagon spokesman Kirby. Two of the strike targets are located in Syria, and the other is in Iraq.
Kirby told reporters Tuesday that “these structures are directly related to specific drone threats, involving their logistics and maintenance, command and control, launch and recovery, and perhaps equipment transfer and systems support.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters Monday, “The attacks on our troops have to stop, and because of that, the president ordered the operation for the self-defense of our personnel.”
U.S. Central Command Commander Adm. Frank McKenzie (Frank McKenzie) said in a June 15 interview with the Voice of America in Cairo that U.S. forces in Iraq have been attacked by drones three times in “a little more than a month’s time. The attacks caused no casualties.
Iranian-backed militias have launched at least five one-way drone attacks on facilities used by U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq since April of this year, and are now launching rocket attacks on U.S. and coalition forces,” a Pentagon spokeswoman, Navy Lt. Col. Jessica McNulty, added Monday. “
The United States does not seek conflict with Iran, but we are fully capable of protecting our forces on the ground and responding to any threats or attacks,” she said.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday condemned the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, saying they offend national sovereignty and violate international conventions. The Iraqi military said Iraq should not be a place for “settling old scores.
Sunday’s airstrikes were the second ordered by the Biden administration against Iranian-backed groups. The U.S. launched an attack in late February on buildings in Syria belonging to Iranian-backed militias. The Pentagon said the militias launched attacks against U.S. and coalition personnel in Iraq.